Readings 15 Sep 2002
(24th Sunday of Ordinary Time)
Exodus 14: 19 - 31
The Readings from the Hebrew Scriptures have been following the story of Moses. Now we reach the 'grand-daddy' of them all - the turning back of the waters of the Red Sea to deliver the people to the other side. Note it is God who does this, leading the people in a pillar of cloud, throwing the Egyptians into confusion, dropping the wheels off their chariots! When they reached safety the Israelites clearly looked back at the vanquished army behind and felt, 'it was God who got us here!'
A delightful hymn which, in eight verses, tells the story of the Exodus, reminding the singers of the power of God.
Romans 14: 1 - 12
Paul writes to the Church in Rome to settle disputes amongst them. One of these is the issue of the former dietary laws: what should be eaten and what avoided. Paul sets this rather minor discussion in the context of all of life being offered to God. What is important is not the outcome in terms of what people are eating, but how they approach and resolve this conflict, not judging others, but taking care of those considered the 'weakest'. Its not a common agreement on 'meat', but the spirit of the discussion that will bring peace and co-operation.
Matthew 18: 21 - 35
Matthew's Gospel is in a section on rules for community life (see last week's on 'sins in the community'). Here it uses the parable of the unforgiving sermon to underline how crucial forgiveness is in our living. Showing mercy is healthy and freeing not just for the person we forgive, but primarily for the one offering it! Could it be that the 'master' here is within? Perhaps this is about how we treat ourselves in allowing others their wrongs against us?
Comment: [Early Sermon thoughts]
I think these readings are linked by what gets us to the 'other side'; in other words, what leads us to life and health. Exodus tells us it is God. But how? Chief amongst this clearly is the attribute of forgiveness. It is a paramount gospel virtue and is good not only for harmonious relationships but for our own 'deliverance'. That's the early direction of my sermon for next Sunday - the goodness of forgiveness.